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waterproofs in the shower


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Many people have advised going for a test walk carrying a full rucksack but I would also add that it might be worth kitting yourself out in your waterproof gear and standing under the shower for five minutes or more. I bought ponchos that said "100% waterproof" but turned out to be as leaky as sieves.

Of course, if you are going in hot summer weather this won't be important as you will be able to dry off - but if not . . .
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Camino Frances (2006)
I actually did this exercise when preparing for the camino, and it worked!
Good idea!! Apparently some large outdoor shops (but none in the uk that i've found...grr) have special rooms for testing all the gear before you buy. Freezing rooms for polar gear, wet rooms etc.... What a fantastic idea - shame more places dont do it.


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I wish I heard this advice before my camino! My waterproof raincoat was anything but waterproof, and I was soaked to the bone within 5 minutes, which wasn't fun for 25km in a downpour of a very cold 2C outside.

In Burgos I replaced that raincoat with a great poncho that can fit over my pack, goes down to the ankles, and has arms and zipper up the front. That is what I would recommend as raingear, worked great for me.


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Thanks for this Fiddletree. I have bought a replacement poncho but there is not a lot of choice of styles in the UK. I'll have a look in Burgos (or somewhere else in Spain) when I get there for one like you describe. Do you have a brand name or a store name?

We walked 800 or so kilometres through France without ever coming across an outdoor type shop - although I was later told there had been a couple in the industrial/trading zones outside the towns of Cahors and Moissac (not especially easy to reach when on foot and exhausted).

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John Hussey

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Poncho: ... cttypeid=1

Above is one I have used very successfully for the last 3-4 years few years. It is Canadian from a very well-known company that you should be able to purchase in the UK at better sporting goods stores. There must be UK ponchos as well of equal or better quality. The good ones are a little pricey but well worth it when needed. Another possibility would be a military surplus type store. A military poncho is always quite heavier, though!


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My poncho is an 'Atmospheric Altus' poncho. The brandname is Altus.

As shown here: ... 20884&opt=

No matter what size you are, get the biggest size possible. I'm a small woman and was happy with my extra large poncho, as it went down farther. I LOVED this poncho, it is the best one I have seen anywhere. I am sure you can buy one in Pamplona as well, or order it online before leaving. In Burgos, I went to the outdoors store in a square near the cathedral square, it was just down the street from the private albergue in the center.
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John Hussey

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Integral Designs sil poncho works great for both applications but you would hardly need the tarp set-up on the Camino. The material is quite thin, lightweight and airy but extremely tough. Since it is so airy one does not have to walk in one's increasingly wet, sweaty underclothing which dries well, whether one is using directional clothing or not!


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I'm hoping someone will correct me on this but my experience of the "better sporting goods stores" here in the UK (at least the ten or so in the town where I live) is that they stock NO ponchos at all (and look down their noses when you ask). They just aren't fashionable here - it's all jackets - dominated by expensive gear from our local factory (Berghaus).

I noticed when on the camino in France that you could usually identify people's nationality from the brands they were wearing. Quechua rucksacks - French, Deuter - German. We didn't see even one Spanish person on our two month trek so I don't know what they wear. It appears that sporting goods are still fairly nationally based and many online stores don't sell/deliver overseas..

John Hussey

Active Member
"Outfitters" would perhaps be a better description than "sporting goods stores". Try that route or order via the 'net.
Yours is the country (Britain) that developed the directional clothing for winter/wet wear for long distance hiking so I am convinced you can likely purchase a better than decent poncho there as well!

I will try and look up some links for you
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It's true that they're not usually seen as fashionable over in the uk ...the best place to find them is usually army surplus stores. The ones they sell will usually be quite tough - but make absolutely sure you get real surplus not after-market copies.

Alternatively there is the snugpak poncho: ... r3387.html

About £40 and snugpak stuff is fairly good. You might be able to find it cheaper this is just the result of a quick search. Hope it helps :)


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This waterproof poncho from Mountain Equip Coop is the one I used on our 1000K walk from Sevilla to Santiago and Finisterre. I used it wayyyy more than I wanted to. Tons and tons of rain. I loved the weightlessness of the thing, and the ease of using it ( and packing it), even though it blew around like crazy in high winds! I had used another poncho on the CF and I hated it. It was really heavy and unwieldly. This one is super. I am happy with it and will take it with me on the Norte - really because of it's weight - it's neglible and yet provides a good measure of protection.



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Thanks Lynne; that was most reassuring I hadn't bought it yet but I will for sure now. I have made several purchases from Mountain Equipment they are a little pricey but I have been very satisfied with the quality. I love my Back Pack and light weight sleeping bag.


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Just to confuse the issue a :D and add another site I have also been looking at the following website

they have ponchos that fit over your backpack as well, or alternatively can just act as a cover for your backpack. The owner is very helpful with all the enquiries I've sent him so check out this site too.
cheers, Jane
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Nunca se camina solo
Just to add my tuppence worth to this - in my view the choice depends on what route and what time of the year you plan to walk.

Ponchos aren't popular in the British Isles because of the wind and the combination of wind and rain together can make ponchos impossible to put on solo and less effective in battling the elements compared to an outer layer of rain ware. The outer rain shell in very cold conditions is also an other effective layer. In Spain I use a poncho (to which I am a late convert )in spring/summer and wind/water proof rain jacket and trousers in winter.

In terms of the poncho - I use simple and relatively cheap: ... r1752.html

Alas this year in the UK all we had to do was step outside to test raingear - getting in the shower was not necessary :)

Horses for courses



Active Member
I picked up a neat poncho in Bayonne, France for about 30 Euros at a large sporting good store. It was a front zip-up type that covered both hiker and pack - seemed like a better design than a pull-over.

It proved its worth during the few times I had to use it. It wasn't hard to put on, even when windy (once I got the hang of it). Also, I liked being able to unzip while walking to get some airflow. And when I unzipped all the way while closing it around my neck with the velcro strip and removing my arms from the sleeves, it felt like I was wearing an old pilgrim cloak ;-) I even wore it around during rainy evenings when bumming around town (including after reaching Santiago).

I did have an issue with the hood seam, though. To be fair, the only one in my size was a display model, so I suppose it had been pawed over and tried on by many folks. But there were a couple of tiny tears in the seam that I had to repair with duct tape. Even so, I really liked that poncho. There was a whole rack of them at the store, so I think it must've been a common brand - at least in France.


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I have now bought the one recommended by Sil in the topic:

A compromise between a raincoat and a poncho - looks good.

TIP: Ponchos have the advantage over rain jackets in that you don't need to use a rucksack cover or inner liner. People have told me that when they used an inner liner then the outside of the rucksack still got soaked and that made everything much heavier.

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